Okay, time for the hard stuff. Each of the candidates in the runoff, Louis Guthrie and Carl Pittman, have Internal Affairs Investigations in their permanent personnel files. Mr. Guthrie’s investigations all stem from the line of duty: Mr. Pittman’s is a personal matter that he made public last week at the Greater Houston Pachyderm forum but has been floating around by word of mouth and email for months.
The Louis Guthrie Files
First up is Mr. Guthrie (alphabetical order). Mr. Guthrie had numerous disciplinary actions during his 19 years at the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. I put them in a table for you:
|One spare magazine had 6 full metal jacket cartridges.||Letter of Reprimand in permanent personnel file.|
|Asking an inmate about his affiliation with the Nation of Islam.||Letter of Reprimand in permanent personnel file.|
|While working an extra job, charged with using excessive force and abusive language to control a customer.||15 day suspension without pay, 180 day probation, anger management counseling - reduced after appeal to 12 day suspension and 30 day probation.|
|January, 2000||Foot slipped off brake and bumped the car in front of him at a stoplight. $410 damages.||Letter of Reprimand in permanent personnel file.|
|Unprofessional conduct (horseplay) after Fire School training. Pants were ripped and undergarments exposed.||1 day suspension without pay, 180 probation.|
|January, 2007||Rear ended a car at a stoplight, damage $2,094.10.||Letter of Reprimand in permanent personnel file.|
|May 5, 2009 (Cinco de Mayo)|
|Car wash incident.||Termination (currently under appeal).|
I think that is a complete list – if I missed one, I’m sure that someone will correct me. I discussed each of these with Mr. Guthrie after the forum Thursday, 6/21. As for the reprimands for car wrecks, perhaps he isn’t the best driver around, having two wrecks during his time but Louis wanted you to know that those two wrecks represented approximately 3 million miles driven while on duty. Mr. Pittman’s attack boys are fond of calling Mr. Guthrie “Roscoe P. Coltrane” because of the wrecks – I think it is funny and if that was all they did, who cares?
Mr. Guthrie told me that the full metal jacket cartridges in a spare magazine happened because he had to qualify at the range that morning. He told me that it takes 56 bullets and the county only provides 50, so he fired 6 out of one of three spare cartridges. He didn’t have time to stop by the store before his shift, so he filled out the magazine from his supply at home, which happened to be FMJ. Unfortunately, his partner that evening discharged his weapon in the line of duty. When that happens, all of the officers on scene have to have their weapons and spare magazines checked to make certain that they didn’t fire their weapons as well. This policy came about because there were times in the past when several officers would fire their weapons but only one officer would claim to have done so. During this after shooting inspection, the investigator found the FMJ bullets in a spare magazine.
Mr. Guthrie told me that the incident in which he asked an inmate about the Nation of Islam came about because the prisoner had exceeded his 15 minute visitation period. When a female guard tried to get him to return to his cell, he attacked her. She called for help and Mr. Guthrie responded, taking control of the prisoner. During this confrontation he asked the man if he was a member of the Nation of Islam because he had seen the prisoner drawing the crescent moon/star symbol on his clothes and in his cell. Mr. Guthrie thinks it is ironic that the incoming jail questionnaire includes questions about religion but a guard cannot ask about it.
As for the excessive force charge, Mr. Guthrie told me that was working an off-duty job and the bar closed at 2 am. Two customers refused to leave until they finished their drinks. At 2:30 am, Mr. Guthrie and another off-duty officer told the men that it was time to leave and one of them approached in an aggressive manner and Mr. Guthrie used a shoulder push on him and he went down to the floor. He told me that he might have used a curse word, he didn’t really remember. The case file notes that although the West University Police arrested the man, Mr. Guthrie never followed through and filed charges.
Mr. Guthrie told me that the “horseplay” one occurred at the end of a full week of training and after a day in the “smokehouse”. If you’ve ever undergone fire training (I have), you have to crawl through a smoke filled house wearing an air tank and try to make it out. It ain’t easy and the tensions are high. Also, you wear old clothes because you will ruin them with soot. So anyway, Mr. Guthrie wears some old jeans that had the back pockets torn and hanging loose. After the class, the group was happy and relieved that they made it through and a couple of recruits thought it would be funny to pull Mr. Guthrie’s pockets completely off. When they did that, it ripped the butt of his jeans out and he was standing there with his underwear showing. A supervisor that didn’t care for Mr. Guthrie told him to write the two recruits up and Mr. Guthrie refused, so Mr. Guthrie was written up.
And of course we’ve already discussed the car wash incident and the appeal. So there you go, you now have a snapshot of Louis Guthrie’s disciplinary file. I suggest you read the whole thing (minus the car wash, which is on appeal) if you want more information.
The Carl Pittman File
So now we turn to Mr. Pittman. Ugh. I really wish he hadn’t made the runoff and we could skip over this and let him deal with it in private. But he made the runoff and he made these allegations public, so here we go.
Mr. Pittman claimed at the Greater Houston Pachyderm meeting that (a) Mr. Guthrie’s campaign coordinator had accused him of murder and (b) that an anonymous supporter of Mr. Guthrie had accused him of beating his wife and he told the audience that he would never, ever do that.
Well, I’ve already talked about Candice Schwager and made clear that she isn’t the Guthrie campaign coordinator and wasn’t when she was interviewed with the Houston Press, so let’s skip her and address the second of Mr. Pittman’s charges, that an anonymous supporter of Mr. Guthrie accused him of hitting his wife. Here is what Mr. Pittman’s Letter of Reprimand says:
An administrative investigation (Case #08-0052-0303) reveals that you violated Sheriff’s Office policies, rules and regulations. Specifically, in 2008, this department was made aware of allegations of domestic violence made by your wife, Mrs. Kristi Pittman. The investigation determined that Mrs. Pittman, had confided in friends/co-workers, and later to Sheriff’s Office Internal Affairs Investigators, that on at least two occasions you had been physically abusive towards her.
So, no, it wasn’t an anonymous supporter of Mr. Guthrie that made these accusations, it was Mr. Pittman’s current wife. And during the course of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office investigation (case # 08-0052-0303), Mr. Pittman’s first wife also alleged that he abused her. Let’s try to get these allegations in some sort of order without going through the entire list of charges, which are numerous.
During the interview with Mr. Pittman’s first wife, Patricia, she alleged that on July 19, 2006:
He didn’t.. . no, he didn’t strike me until the very end of our marriage and he didn’t slap me or punch me. He pushed me; he dragged me off the bed and I hit my head on a table. He would take his hand and squeeze my face, like my mouth real tight.
um, one night he tried to strangle me and I started to scream and then he took another hand and put it over my mouth and said you make one word, I’ll kill you.
After a lot of denials under questioning, his current wife Kristi says this (September 2007):
Help us help Carl.
Ok there’s been a couple and there was one where you know we were yelling at each other and um and I, I went to go and I was sitting on the couch and he kind of came at me and was just kind of yelling at me and stuff and I said something smart and he did hit me (crying).
How did he hit you?
He hit me kind of like (crying) across my face a little bit and
With an opened hand?
I don’t remember
What side of your face?
It was the well it had to have been my left side cause it was the left eye and it did black my eye.
And is that the black eye that you came to work with?
It was (crying) I’m sorry yes it was.
When was this?
It was in um September, late September.
She continues with another allegation that probably happened in January/February of 2008:
How did he hit you ? Was it with a fist, a knee, or what?
it was with his fist he just kind of swung out, you know.
So he did punch you in the rib area.
In the rib area yeah.
That is pretty much all I can take. There is more, a lot more contained in those files. There is discussion of a daughter that Mr. Pittman had during an affair in his first marriage that is not listed anywhere on Mr. Pittman’s candidate questionnaires. There is the famous cucumber and rape allegation from his first wife, as well as police records from California in 2006 that confirm that his first wife did tell contemporaneously about one incident.
You will have to read the interviews and documents and get a sense of this case for yourself. Mr. Pittman said at the Pachyderm meetings that he never hit his wife. The polygraph test said that he was deceptive on these questions.
The following relevant questions were asked of the subject. The subject’s verbal response follows each question in quotation marks.
I. DID YOU STRIKE YOUR WIFE IN HER FACE? “NO”
2. DID YOU STRIKE YOUR WIFE IN HER RIBS? “NO”
After careful analysis of the subject’s polygrams, it is my professional opinion that there were Deceptive Criteria present. The subject is considered to be untruthful as the listed relevant questions were answered.
From the Letter of Reprimand:
Although you were not charged with any violations of law, it is the opinion of this Department that your behavior could have been in violation of Texas Penal Code, Section 22.01 (“Assault”).
In conclusion, the investigation has revealed some concerns as to your judgment and possible issues of anger and self-control when agitated. Therefore, you are hereby ordered to seek “Anger Management” and “Behavioral Sensitivity” counseling, or other counseling as deemed appropriate by a professional counselor designated by the Harris County Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
It is important to remember that Mr. Pittman has not been charged or convicted of spousal abuse – these are allegations made by his wife and ex-wife. I asked him and his consultant if we could discuss these issues and they said no, that I wouldn’t be fair because I have already endorsed Mr. Guthrie. I disagree but they have a valid objection. Since they will not comment, I’ll show you what Mr. Pittman told the investigating officer:
Q. Do you believe that this investigation is being handled in a proper manner?
R. No, I believe that the investigation left the scope of what it was initially intended to investigate. To investigate situations that occurred or allegedly occurred with my initial employment should have been done prior to my being re-hired. Going to seek information from my wife’s ex husband who is known to hate me could only encourage harmful information whether true or untrue. Going to speak to my ex-wife, who has reason because of a civil lawsuit pending in San Diego, California, who has made some of the same allegations against me apparently while speaking to Sgt. Sandoval, should not be a surprise to anyone. And lastly, I should say that I am disappointed how this investigation has been handled and tainted my reputation as a person and professional peace officer.
You can read the collection of IAD files by clicking here.
This is not pretty and not something I ever wanted to talk about. I first interviewed Mr. Pittman on 8/4/11 and we talked for a couple of hours and I walked away impressed. After our meeting, I spoke with a friend that happens to be a Sheriff’s Deputy and knows Mr. Pittman through the department. My friend told me that Mr. Pittman wasn’t qualified to be the Sheriff and that his IAD file would keep him from being elected. After reviewing the file, I understood what my friend was saying and hoped we never got to the point of having to discuss it.
The question for Republican primary voters is one of electability. Which of these two men, assuming that they are qualified to do the job, is most electable in November? Obviously Sheriff Garcia will use the above information against either man. You, as a Republican voter, will have to decide which man you want to represent your party and which man stands the best chance of being elected.
I’ve already told you my choice and I haven’t wavered – I will again vote for Mr. Guthrie because I think that he is far more qualified than Mr. Pittman and I think that the voters in November will not accept Mr. Pittman’s current explanations about the allegations made against him. Most voters were aware of Mr. Guthrie’s car wash incident and some were aware of the other stuff in his file and he still managed to be the highest vote getter in the election. Again, I wish that Mr. Pittman had not made the runoff and I wish that he hadn’t brought this up in the meetings this week. I searched his website just prior to publishing this and still the only information that he refutes is that of Mrs. Schwager claiming in a Houston Press interview that he murdered someone. I don’t know why Mrs. Schwager said that or even if she said it that way but I think that by using it the way he is, Mr. Pittman is trying to distract voters from the actual allegations above and those contained in the interviews with his first wife and current wife. Rather than blame some “anonymous” person for these allegations, he should tell us why they are false because this is a very important election for Republicans and the voters deserve to know the facts. Hopefully, he will discuss this openly at some point and stop claiming that his opponent is behind it. His opponent or his opponent’s supporters may well be using it but the allegations came from Mr. Pittman’s two wives.
Now I think I’ll take a shower.